City votes to fund Atlanta Streetcar project

ATLANTA, Ga. -- Your tax dollars are now going to fund the stalled street car project. The Atlanta City Council has approved $1 million a year to support the light rail system in downtown Atlanta, but it's not up and running yet.

The majority of the project is being paid for by a federal grant, but the city will now contribute to that amount.

Critics say this project has had delay after delay, and it doesn't look like riders will be able to enjoy it until fall of this year.

The money is going to come from hotel-motel tax revenue, and also rental car fees, so it's going to be tourists who absorb most of the hit. But people riding the street car will also feel it. The City Council also voted to charge $1 per ride for everyone that gets on to help with the start up costs of the project.

The City Council split 9-2 over the decision, with opposing council members worried about the long term commitment. They said
investing$1 million a year for the foreseeable future doesn't guarantee a payback on investment, but the council members behind the project say the payback is down the road.

"Those are legitimate concerns, most light rail systems in the country are not as profitable as people might imagine. But they contribute more in their functionality than they do economically," said City Councilmember Michael Julian Bond.

There is still no hard date when the streetcar project will open.


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